By Morgan Goodwin - Senior Director, Angeles Chapter
Photos by Morgan Goodwin
How do you measure the love that goes into a place? One way would be to count the thousands of pounds of supplies that have been hauled nearly a thousand vertical feet up the trail, on people's backs, to build the San Antonio Ski Hut.
Perched halfway between the parking lot and the summit of Mount Baldy, the Hut is a gem of the Sierra Club's ongoing Legacy of enjoying and exploring the mountains. This cozy hut with majestic views is cared for by a team of people who invest countless hours, and countless trips up the trail hauling cement, sheet metal, lumber, wood stoves, chainsaws and more.
A friend reminded me about the San Antonio Ski Hut work weekend, a ritual that happens twice a year both before the winter season and after the winter season. I signed up immediately, dragging my willing spouse along for the adventure. We met at 7:30 at the parking lot, loaded food and tools into our packs, and headed up the trail for a day of hauling firewood, chopping firewood, stacking firewood, and some other minor cleaning. (note that all wood gathered is from dead and down trees!) Plus the food was delicious, and the Deep connections with fellow Telemark skiers and Mountain lovers was perfect. We hiked to the top of the ridge in the morning, after a beautiful sunrise, and left the mountain dreaming about our next visit.
Hut Committee Chairman Gil Estrada gives the morning briefing for how we will organize the work for the day.
The work party poses for a group photo before dispersing to collect firewood, clean chimneys, white walls, and paint the exterior.
The author poses with a rucksack full of kindling.
Our cook, Masoud lays out lunch, the first of three hearty meals in the Hut main living room to keep us going all day.
Firewood is gathered from dead-and-down trees far up the hillside, and haul down to the Hut by hand. it's a good reminder to use wood sparingly when staying in the Hut!
Tracy has been a Hut host for over 25 years, and her job for the weekend was stacking wood. There's a very particular way to do it so it stays orderly and neat, and she spent hours in the cramped crawl space. At first I wondered why there was a bike helmet, but I quickly realized that the beams and joists had probably created a lot of bumps on her head over the years. What a great solution!
The dark green color is not only the Sierra Club color, it also helps the Hut blend in with the forest. The paint also protects the Hut from the elements, and touching up the chip spots was one of our tasks.
This weekend we debuted a couple Electric chainsaws. They worked great, much quieter and easier to use than the gas powered ones.
We found an old two person Crosscut saw in the crawl space. With a little practice, this was a beautiful tool to use. The singing sound it makes as it runs across the log is unique, and the teamwork that the two people operating the side need to exhibit creates a meditative state. We wondered what it would be like to be an expert at this tool, and all of the people before us who had relied on this as their only option.
At the end of any long day, it's nice to have happy hour and story time.
Waking up Sunday morning to the sunrise, I was able to meditate on the very special nature of this hut, in the community that has cherished it over the years. our delicate relationship with the mountains, the forest service, the thousands of people who passed through here every year. It's a good reminder that we should take nothing for granted, that everything changes, but that by working together we can create deeply meaningful and beautiful places of connection in the mountains.
The Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club welcomes your participation in its century of involvement in the enjoyment and protection of our planet's environment. The Angeles Chapter spans Los Angeles and Orange Counties in Southern California, with an extensive program of hikes/hiking, national and international travel, local conservation campaigns, political action, and programs for people of all ages.